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The Laura Dewey Bridgman Collection

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Laura Dewey Bridgman (1829-1889)

Laura Dewey Bridgman (1829-1889)

(photo from: Lamson, Mary Swift - Life and education
of Laura Dewey Bridgman, the deaf, dumb and blind girl.

c. 1878 - New England Publishing Co.)

Laura Dewey Bridgman was born on December 21, 1829, in Etna, New Hampshire. She was normal at birth, but contracted scarlet fever at the age of two which destroyed her hearing and sight. A newspaper account about Laura in the spring of 1837 attracted the attention of Dr. Samuel Howe, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. Eager to attempt to teach a deaf-blind pupil, he brought her to the Institute in October 1837.

The process was slow and tedious, but Laura eventually learned to read and to write using specially grooved paper. Dr. Howe's report of his successful experiment aroused worldwide interest and Laura became a wonder of her day. The British author, Charles Dickens, even devoted a chapter of his book, American Notes (1842) to a discussion of Laura's case. Her formal education ceased when she was twenty, but Laura continued to live at the Perkins Institute for the rest of her life. She spent most of her time knitting, sewing, cleaning, and writing letters to friends. Laura Bridgman died on May 24, 1889.

Collection #2

Bridgman, Laura Dewey (1829-1889)
Letters, 1879-1883

2 folders


Letters from Laura Bridgman, the first deaf-blind person to be successfully educated in the United States, to Abbie Forest. Included are six letters, typed transcripts of the letters, and a piece of lace knitted by Laura Bridgman.


The Laura Bridgman Letters were donated to the Leonard H. Axe Library by Greta Gudgen on March 2, 1983. Greta Gudgen received the letters from her grandmother, Abbie Forest, to whom the letters were addressed.


~ ~ See above ~ ~


The Laura Bridgman Letters consist of six letters, typed transcripts of the letters, and a piece of lace knitted by Laura Bridgman. The letters are from Laura Bridgman to her friend Abbie Forest of Thayer, Kansas, written between 1879 and 1883. The letters are primarily discussions about holidays, friends, illnesses, and the weather. One letter mentions a corresponding relationship that Laura Bridgman had with Lucretia Garfield, the wife of President James Garfield. The letters are arranged chronologically.

More information about Laura Bridgman can be found in the Laura Bridgman Papers at the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, and the Howe Family Papers in the Houghton Library at Harvard University.


f. 1 - Correspondence, 1879-1883
f. 2 - Sample of lace knitted by Laura Bridgman


Bridgman, Laura Dewey.
Forest, Abbie F.
Garfield, Lucretia
Lace -- 19th century
Women -- 19th century

Selected local material

Links to related sites


Last Modified: Jul 09, 2007 - 10:04

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